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Training and competition abroad

In order to maximize the benefits of training and competition in another country, certain aspects of foreign travel should be considered before departure. When a journey abroad is planned, information should be obtained about the local weather and humidity at the time in question. Details about the height above sea level, time differences, and so on should also be ascertained. On the basis of this information the flight and time of departure can be arranged to minimize the effect of jet lag, so that the need to acclimatize on arrival can be accommodated.

Other important factors to be aware of before arrival are the standard of living and sanitation of the areas to be visited, the prevalent diseases and the medical care available. Before major competitions the team doctor should visit the place of competition well ahead of the date of the event, to prepare for the team visit (ideally at the same time of year as the competition will take place).

Disease prophylaxis

Before travelling abroad it is essential to find out in good time which vaccinations are compulsory for the countries in question and which are recommended. Vaccinations against certain diseases, such as typhoid fever and cholera, must be given well before departure so that the body will have time to build up the necessary resistance.

As far as malaria is concerned, it is necessary to take precautions, in the form of tablets, against the disease before, during, and after visits to an area where there is a risk of infection. An immunoglobulin injection given a few days before departure provides some protection against hepatitis for 4–6 weeks and is particularly desirable for travel to less developed areas. Frequent travellers should be immunized against hepatitis.

Travellers abroad come in contact with a different bacterial and viral environment from that at home, and may therefore be more susceptible to infections including stomach, bowel complaints, and colds.Meticulous personal hygiene is therefore essential. In many countries ordinary tap water is unsuitable for drinking and bottled mineral water should be used instead. If there are doubts about the standard of hygiene, hot cooked or fried dishes should be ordered, and cold dishes, salads, pastries, and desserts—in some places even ice cream—should be avoided. All fruit should be peeled before being eaten. If this is not possible the fruit should be rinsed in mineral water.

Drinks accompanying meals should be mineral water, bottled soft drinks, pasteurized milk, or boiled beverages such as coffee and tea. It is important to find out whether the local water supply is clean enough for bathing, and in hotels of doubtful standards it is preferable to shower rather than to bath. A team member who falls ill while abroad should be isolated and a doctor consulted.

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